James Horrocks (1734-1772)
The youngest member of the faculty, James Horrocks became the sixth president of the College of William and Mary following the death of William Yates. Educated at Trinity College (Cambridge), Horrocks was an Anglican clergyman who served as rector of Bruton Parish Church and commissary of the Bishop of London. As master of the Grammar School, Horrocks had largely avoided participation in the contests between the faculty and Board of Visitors. In his election to the presidency, Horrocks affirmed his support for the Board of Visitors plans, including a controversial revision of the statues to consolidate power in the College’s external governors. This included acknowledging the Board’s right to remove and replace faculty, as well as stricter enforcement of faculty residence at the College and barring faculty from additional positions outside the school
During Horrocks’ early tenure from 1764 – 1768, the struggle for control between the faculty and the Board of Visitors dominated every controversy. The ultimate, inconclusive end to the conflict came as the imperial crisis entered a more critical phase after passage of the Stamp Act. Attempts to hire new faculty member for vacancies resulted a series of incompetent hires and nasty exchanges. By the time the college closed briefly due to a smallpox epidemic in 1768, a precarious balance – not resolution – had been reached where the Board of Visitors controlled finances and conceded little authority, but the faculty gained the rights to hold their professorships concurrently with appointments as parish clergy and the requirement to reside on campus was loosened. Questions about enforcement of discipline on campus remained unanswered.
The arrival of Lord Botetourt to serve as royal governor, ushered a time of good will between the College and royal provincial authority. As governor, Botetourt served as a member of the Board of Visitors, and generally supported the College’s endeavors (including surveys of the state of college buildings). To promote academic excellence, Governor Botetourt and President Horrocks created medals for excellence. Upon Lord Botetourt’s death on October 15, 1770, President Horrocks conducted the funeral and led the procession from the church to the College for Botetourt’s internment.
As American Anglicans advocated for a bishop of Virginia, President Horrocks eagerly lobbied for the cause and the position. When he departed for England on June 21, 1771, ostensibly for reasons of health, senior faculty member John Camm accepted the temporary responsibilities of the presidency. President Horrocks died suddenly en route to England in Oporto, Portugal on March 20, 1772, and John Camm became the seventh president of the College of William and Mary shortly thereafter.
Material in SCRC
- James Horrocks material, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
|Preceded by||College of William and Mary President||Succeeded by|
Fall 1760 - December 1764
Late 1764 Early 1765 - 21 June 1771
21 June 1771: accepted temporary responsibilities of the presidency until after the death of Horrocks on 20 March 1772;
1772 - Spring 1777
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